QUESTION: COULD THE FBI ARREST YOU FOR READING THIS BOOK OR ARREST THE AUTHOR FOR WRITING IT WITH A VEILED THREAT TO A SITTING USA PRESIDENT? LEGAL EAGLES AGREE AND DISAGREE.
[BTW, ''JEON'' if you were wondering is taken from Greek surname from a much longer name in Greek that was changed by a clerk at Ellis Island when Arthur's Greek ancestors immigrated to the USA from Greece.]
Although ''Snowflake'' is set against the present-day destruction of our planet, it is a work of fiction. But the attacks on the environment Ben chronicles are real. The media headlines, tweets, and quotes are authentic. And, as of 2020, the facts he lists about our accelerating climate emergency are
– Arthur Jeon
This blog notes: Get ready for a new climate-themed novel titled "Snowflake" by Harvard-educated (''class of 1985'') novelist and screenwriter Arthur Jeon. While I'm based in Taiwan and he's based in California, we were able to set up an email exchange about his debut novel. Here is some of what he told me.
Mom, Dad, June –
By the time you read this, I’m probably dead.
Middle of the night and I’m writing you this awful note
in a motel room that smells like an empty swimming pool.
Here’s my latest journal, which I started right after the
fires – it will explain everything.
Hate myself for lying nonstop for weeks, but it
describes what’s at stake. Why I had no choice. Don’t blame
yourselves, there’s no way you could have known my secret.
Hands calm and cold as a corpse. Is it really happening
in less than 24-hours? Guess one step at a time gets you
Please be careful – everything will happen. Keep Gigi
close. When the cops bust in, they’ll shoot her for sure.
They always kill pit bulls in no-knock raids.
Need sleep. Need to function tomorrow. Journal will
What an unforgivable letter. Hope someday you can
Love you always. And I’m sorry beyond all words.
New Journal #915
I gazed inside the gates of hell today. They flanked the 405 Freeway.
And not “hell” in the way people complain about driving in LA, inching along in traffic, wondering, how did my life go so wrong? It’s always a
parking lot after school, but today’s hell was no metaphor...
Embers skitter across ten lanes. Trees in the Sepulveda Pass crack and
explode in tornadoes of fire –
“Mom! Take the Getty exit so we don’t get trapped.” June, five years
away from a driver’s permit, is backseat driving as usual. “We can cut up
into the Valley.”
Mom swerves onto Getty Drive. Above us, the museum, crapped
onto a beheaded mountain by a billion dollars, squats behind a burka of
smoke. June wheezes and takes out her inhaler for a hit. I shut the fans.
Futile. The car smells like a chimney.
“There’s fire everywhere.” Mom hesitates at the intersection, squinting.
“Turn right. If it jumps the freeway, we’ll be better off on the other
side,” I try to sound calm. But is this how it happens – everything nor-
mal, running errands, living your stupid life, and then some horror shows
up out of nowhere like a school shooter? And you die in a mudslide?
Flood? Inferno? Happening every day now in the Golden State.
Mom cuts right, away from home, and floors the car. The roaring
Santa Ana winds disappear everything in smoke as afternoon becomes
“Look out!” June yelps. Two men carrying trash bags emerge like
ghosts. Mom slams the brakes, and the men scurry into the brush. Did
they start the fire? It happens. Homeless in encampments light cooking
fires that get away from them, what with everything so dry and –
“There’s fire right there.” June points to an exploding tree, each leaf
spectacularly aflame. I’m momentarily mesmerized, like a guy jumping
off a building, thinking as he falls: This is intense. This is life! Splat.
A Mercedes slings by us, forcing an oncoming car into a gully. Mom
swerves into the breakdown lane, scraping the concrete barrier.
“Mom!” I’m shouting as if I can control any of it. “Take it easy.”
“You just tore off the mirror. Badass!” June sounds thrilled, suddenly
the star of one of the Fast and Furious movies she drags me to. Mom
barrels up the breakdown lane, ignoring the fire truck blaring behind us.
That’s when I know she’s losing it. Mom always obeys the law.
“There! Open sky,” June declares as we crest the hill that overlooks the
valley, slumbering in its usual blanket of smog, unaware that behind us
it’s pure movie destruction – like Godzilla belched up from the depths of
the ocean to scorch the world.
“Will we get to evacuate?” June asks, picturing a vacation from fifth
“Depends on the wind.” I roll down a window, take a deep breath, and
exhale in a rattle.
Turns out, we do have to evacuate. It’s a nightmare because they won’t
even let us up to get Gigi, no matter how much we beg the cops at the
canyon barricades. Only one way in and out, and they don’t want to risk
it for a dog, the heartless bastards. So now Gigi’s stuck up there by herself
with fire everywhere, left behind like the pets after Fukushima melted
down from the earthquake/tsunami.
Left to starve or die of thirst. Or burn to death. Christ!
I’m trying not to bug out, downloading this horrible day in a damn
Kimpton Boutique Hotel in Westwood because Dad had some points
on a credit card. The hotel advertises “Wilshire Chic,” and I’m up on the
roof deck with a tiny pool, watching fires rim the distant hills under a nu-
clear bomb of smoke. Couples drink twenty-dollar “craft cocktails,” like
somebody spent a year woodworking them into existence. Like nothing
is wrong. And for now, for them, I guess nothing is.
But so far, ten houses have burned just two streets away from ours.
I’d pray if I thought it’d help. Pray our house is spared. Pray Gigi’s not
burned alive. Is useless prayer all that’s left?
The sun goes down blood red over West LA.
The merciless wind shifts.
This is good news. Now pluto mansions in Bel Air will burn instead of
Gigi. It’s terrible, but you can replace houses.
At least that media mogul’s estate gets torched. Love that his com-
pound burns as his lie factory for the adult diaper crowd denies Climate
Chaos. What do you say to an old bloodsucker spreading fake news and
poison around the world? Grasping all that fear money?
Do you shout, “Go to hell!”?
No, that would be redundant.
Godzilla just broke the gates of hell and banged on our front door.
“Over 5% of California Burned in Last Five Years.” And fires alone pro-
duced nine times more emissions than got reduced here last year. We’re full speed in reverse.
I ’m sitting outside Nichols' office waiting for the tiny light to go off so I
can enter “the sanctum,” as she calls it. As if therapy will help me deal
with what’s happening. Hell, even my writing isn't helping today.
At least they let us back in the house, soot covering everything...
Gigi's hiding in my bedroom closet. When she bolts out, body wrig-
gling like she’s about to explode, eighty-five pounds of pure muscle hip-
checks me down, and then she’s scraping my face with her tongue. We all
gather around hugging her and everybody gets teary except Dad.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Gigi.” I kiss her blockhead and can’t stop apol-
ogizing. It’s amazing dogs don’t hold it against you, no matter what you
do or how you let them down. And we did screw it up. It was pure luck
the wind blew into Bel Air, roaring through brush as dry as matchsticks –
and still burning in distant hills. We dodged a bullet. For now.
But I can’t dodge damn therapy. Can’t cancel Nichols – it’s under 24
hours and she’s strict about these things, apocalypse be damned. At least
Gigi’s here. Don’t ever want to leave her alone in that house again during
fire season, which just gets longer every year. So, we wait together, ready
for the session that Mom thinks I need.
Gigi, mute, and calm as Buddha, sure doesn’t need therapy.
And even though I’m anxious, I don’t want to be here either, with
Nichols nodding and furiously scribbling notes.
She always denies it, but I just know Nichols is writing a damn book.
She still thinks my memory is cool, no matter how much I tell her it’s
a curse to remember everything I’ve ever read and everything that ever
happens to me. She still doesn't believe I envy “neurotypicals” their am-
nesia – they get to forget their horrors. Not me. I'm stuck scrawling every
detail in journals just to stay sane. Usually, that's okay. Writing is way
better than Nichols for my mental health. But now, the more everybody
lies and denies the state of the world, the more the stats flowing through
my brain churn my guts. Today's log just makes me feel sick.
I’m sure Nichols thinks it’s gross to be complaining about my gift.
She’s right. But gifts are a two-way street, like the oil that heats our homes
and suffocates the planet.
Christ... Feeling scrambled today. A crack in my shell? Hope not.
Guess after getting evacuated and nearly losing Gigi, I’m just not in
the mood for Nichols pointing out how my lists and stats and obsesso
climate spirals are “borderline OCD.”
Okay, Old. Don't tell it to me...
Tell it to the clueless rich people whose houses just burned down. Tell
it to the heart-broken kid whose ancient tortoise died in the fire because
he was too panicked to grab him. Tell it to Greta Thunberg, pleading
the truth like an environmental Joan of Arc, nobody listening. She’s not
"neurotypical" either. But just because you slap a label and dole out drugs
doesn’t make us Zoomers wrong. Or crazy.
I think I’ll quit Nichols. I don’t want to listen to her BS anymore. I
don’t need a paid friend. I’m 18 now and don’t need –
Damn. The light just went off.
"How Scientists Got Climate Change So Wrong." Misunderestimated, as
another terrible president would say. Our country could use a dose of my
"OCD" just to pay attention.